Will You Be a First Responder to ITT Tech Students?

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Teaching and college administration has been my calling for well over a decade. From 2005-2009, I fulfilled that passion at ITT Technical Institute. When I read the news today, that they were no more, my first thought was, “Good! This is long overdue.” It was quickly followed by, “What will happen to all those students?” I am going to put aside the analysis of all the bad things done under the banner of higher education while the colors of ITT Tech flew high upon the helm.  I am not going to think about the fortunes gained and lost by shareholders, employees, and taxpayers.  Today, I want to talk about that secondary concern…the students.

Now that the school is closed, where will these students finish their education?  As outlined, some will seek loan forgiveness, some will drop out, the rest will seek a new college. My hope is that most of them will find another college. My fear is that many that wish to finish somewhere else, will find that there is no room at the inn.  State and private schools have record numbers of applications and not enough seats to accept them.  A similar scenario for different reasons awaits them if they remain in the market driven college realm. Those systems have experienced significant slowdowns, with several meeting the same fate as ITT Tech, or operating as a much smaller college.

If you are like me, you look at that data and ask yourself – “What can I do about this?” My brief answer, in two parts:

  1. I will prepare myself to meet more students who have had a negative education experience, or hear more negative than positive these days regarding college overall. It is more than school closures – it is noticeable safety issues, degrees with few marketable skills, high debt, the list is truly without end. When I hear these issues in class, I will actively listen and not try to defend. I will facilitate understanding.
  2. I will support local movements that seek to meet with students and provide options to them. Even though these students are not “mine”, I am pledging my willingness to educate any one of these affected students. I will do so formally through my University, but also ask other education leaders in the region what can be done. I think about the RED teams that a city will dispatch to court an employer or secure a regulation that will facilitate solid job creation and economic development.

I choose these two actions because they are within my area of control. I proudly work as an associate professor at University of Phoenix. I have been active in causes supporting business and education for two decades in and around Riverside, CA.

One thing I teach first year students is that they need to assess their skills and abilities, then apply them to the problem at hand. I can imagine no better service to students than to follow my own advice and work tirelessly until I make a positive difference in their lives and help them reach their career and academic goals.

What will you do? #ITTTechstudents

Note – Bruce Baron and the San Bernardino Community College District are already doing great work, see the article here

 

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Filed under classroom management, college teaching, employment, higher education, leadership, training, Uncategorized

Full Time or Adjunct? Which one is better for students?

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First, let me confess my bias:  I was hired as a full time faculty member with University of Phoenix back in February of 2015*. Prior to that, I spent the previous decade as a full time college administrator and an adjunct faculty member. I like being fully engaged in higher ed.

Is full time better for ME? You bet! But it’s not about me, cupcake, it’s about the students.  So, is it better for students? What’s happening in higher education.  Moves by Maricopa Community College District tells part of the story.  For the rest, join me, won’t you, for a few minutes in the classroom.

New college students must overcome external obstacles, internal doubts, and regular distractions from their studies if they wish to be successful (ie, graduate college and progress in their career). While those barriers are typically within their control, it helps to have someone in their corner.

Nearly all of the adjuncts I know are pressed for time. They usually have a full time job. In a growing number of instances, an adjunct may work for a half dozen schools, stringing together a bunch of courses to get them as close as they can to full employment.

What happens outside the classroom has a significant effect on the goings on inside the walls, or your CPU for those online educators. Day one, students respond positively to both backgrounds. In my experience, they are most interested in my work as a writer and literary advocate. Those in the job hunt, and really, if you are in college, you ARE in the job hunt, appreciate my two decades of employment, placement, and career development experience. What matters again is not my experiences, but how I present them that first day that matters.

My solution to the dilemma is to try and understand my audience and my purpose walking into that room or logging in for day one. When that is a consistent part of my practice, the student benefits. And I think that was why I meandered onto this career path in the first place.

Feel fee to share your own experiences, as teachers or students. I would like to profile others in a future post. Thanks!

 

*To add another layer, I was laid off in April 2016. I am now an Associate Faculty member at University of Phoenix…aka Adjunct.

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Filed under belief, classroom management, college teaching, employment, higher education, Uncategorized

What is Your Sophomore Year?

What is Your Sophomore Year?

dragon from galway

Over the rest of 2016, my top writing project will be the completion of a book covering a year of significant change.  In my art and my writing, I often choose places of significant conflict. This is not always negative but it does capture the struggle between competing ideas or paths. For example, when I was laid off from my super cool full time college professor job, I faced a choice:  Double down on the life changes so far and modify them to work in the new schedule. Or, jump off this teacher track, chalk up this as an interesting life experience and hustle my butt back into an administrative role at another college.  The choice my wife and I settled upon resembles option one.  Which aligned with my writing goal to complete a book on the second year of a new experience.

Why the second year? And why call it the Sophomore Year?

The Sophomore Year appears following a year of significant change in life circumstances or approach.  Adding a member to the family can count, as could losing a family member.  Marriage could hearken a sophomore year. After a year of excitement and announcement and pomp and ritual, that second year can feel flat.  For that wedding year, prior to that you have the engagement.  And before that you have plenty of talk about the engagement. There is so much to look forward to. We create milestones and products to wear/buy and things to do and say to one another – “I take thee” “I do”.  More people than ever take part in that ritual and enjoy that initial feeling of goodness. That feeling generates internally and externally. Internally, we feel validated and part of the community because we can take part in a common shared ritual that we all accept and understand.  The external motivation comes from the universal positive reinforcement of our choice.  Note that even the government will confer benefits for choosing marriage, perhaps they even provide some sophomore solutions themselves, such as long term investment in shared property and child raising.

Emily Post even gives you up to a year to get out those thank you letters after the wedding. They know just how fun filled and activity ridden that first year can be.  But after a year, usually a routine has set in. In 2015, I left a decade of college administration leadership to blaze a new trail down the academic side of the hill. A perfect new baby came into my life at the end of 2014. By the Summer of 2016, I was laid off from my job, moving me back into an Associate Professor role. By mid-summer, I was one of 33 artists in a 2 month long installation of new artists at Riverside Art Museum. At the end of 2016, I will celebrate five years of marriage to my second (or last, or current as I sometimes say) wife. Needless to say, my second year has been full of peaks and valleys. The paths leading to and from these milestones can be good or bad for my growth.

What is the second year routine? That is a question worthy of exploration.  The topics under this large umbrella are many – work, philosophy, friendship, love, parenting, teaching, volunteering – so the trick is to find ways these weave together in a way that provides greater understanding of what some of us are trying to do, or become, or merely learn, as we toddle our way towards new milestones.

 

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Filed under art, college teaching, critical thinking, higher education, Uncategorized, writing

Last Week to View “52 Project” Part I

good pic of my 52

hope or fear?

Our four day run was extended through this Sunday! Please enjoy and support the museum if you would like. Either, both, or neither…it’s all good. If you have ever finished something you did not think you could do, then you know how I feel this week.

I went on a 52-week artistic journey, with 147 other people, this past year. It was a program through the Riverside Art Museum called “The 52 Project” and it was designed to help us be more creative through setting goals, discovering our story, capturing ideas in a journal and learning about the “business” of art. This summer we will be sharing the results of this amazing experience with 33 mini 4-day exhibits and a Group Show.

The Riverside Art Museum has been very generous in supporting us so we have agreed, as a group, to help raise some funds to help underwrite the installation of the summer shows and some seed money to insure the continuation of The 52 Project,

My family collage includes a poetry chapbook. You can buy it at RAM’s Blue Door Gift Shop or online http://bit.ly/doyourchores

100% of all sales through the end of this 52 Project goes back to Riverside Art Musuem.

Here are some suggested giving levels. No amount is too small….

  1. $220………. pitch in towards buying a “52 Project” brick for the entry walkway
  2. $52.00………. to contribute to next year’s “52 Project” scholarship fund
  3. $75.20……… help underwrite the installation cost of this exhibit
  4. $100.52…….. help underwrite the marketing of this event
  5. $152.00…….. help the Riverside Art Museum be a “cool” (AC) cultural hangout

Please make any donation out to the Riverside Art Museum and put my name/ The 52 project in the memo line. You can mail the check to me or to the museum: Riverside Art Museum 3425 Mission Inn Ave, Riverside CA 92501. Please call the museum at 951-684-7111 to pay with a credit card over the phone.

I have the dates and times of our events listed below…please join us!

THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!

 

Note: This show extended through July 24th!!

GROUP ONE mini-exhibits July 7-11 (FREE admission)… opening July 7th from 6-9 during Art Walk

Presenting Artists: Jessica Boctor, Gabrielle Brewer, Larry Burns, Elizabeth Carr, Crystal Edwards, Gordon Edwards, Charlotte McKenzie, Sue Merrill, Donna Morin, Gary Rainsbarger, Kelly Rider, Martina Schrader, Kaye Sweaney, Jennifer Sweeney, Anna Vela, Alicia Webb, Sharon Zorn Katz

GROUP TWO exhibits August 4-7 (FREE admission)…opening August 4th from 6-9 during Art Walk

Presenting Artists: Terri Stiles Alkayali, Jennifer Anderson, Maggie Tello Case, Kathy Crabbe, Karen Dunivent, Terry Ellis, Diego Hernandez, Jeanne Kataoka, Sue Roginski, Nicole Smith, Ingrid Tegner, Bridget Tucker, Sue Young, Judy Valdivia, Raina Wessen, Shirley Wible

Mom and Rob at 52

artists – need family support! Thanks Mom and Sis.

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My First Art Exhibit 7/7/16

cover for event aka seven

A year ago, I started a 12 month new artist training program provided by the Riverside Art Museum. I joined to support my effort to bring art into all the corners of my life. For the last year, I have been writing and constructing and training and planning. And it all comes to a head this Thursday!

Please join me and over a dozen “newish” artists as we take over the Riverside Art Museum during a four-day free exhibition.  You can come anytime over these four days, but if you want to watch me pour you a drink and chat, please come to the opening reception on July 7th anytime from 5-9 pm.

Here are other ways to be involved:

I’ve created a poetry chat book, a companion piece to my exhibit.  If you’d like to buy a copy, visit one of the stores below. Hard copy and electronic available. 100% of the dollars on all sales through August 2016 go to RAM and the 52 Project.

Createspace store

Amazon

Donate to Riverside Art Museum (RAM) and support these types of projects:

Donate to RAM here

Like us and promote the event on Facebook:

Follow this on Facebook

 

Thanks for your support.

I look forward to seeing you on the 7th!

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Filed under art, training, Uncategorized, writing

Using the Comma in Your Life

This is a link to an article I wrote for Inlandia Literary Journeys. Each Sunday’s Life section of the Press Enterprise features a different guest column.  This is from 3/13/2016.  Share, enjoy, and read other postings on the subject of writing here –

The Creative Pause, Larry Burns

 

 

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Filed under career, college teaching, critical thinking, UOPX, writing

Looking for Stories

Metrics!  No matter your job, there are data available to validate, educate, or eliminate you!  A solid organization will utilize all three purposes while managing the people side of the operation. During my decade in higher education, “educate” would seem a natural fit, but metrics applied in higher education can make people wonder just what they taught us at our alma maters.

If you were ever a college student, you know that the preferred method of gathering metrics from students is through the end of course survey.  One concern is that they tend to attract your most ardent supporters and frustrated detractors.  To be fair, that is an unscientific opinion supported by personal experience over several years.  I would be pleasantly surprised to find otherwise, so if there is good evidence to the contrary, please let me know.

A second concern has to do with the psychological effect looking at my scores has on me.  As much as I say and believe that I am not competitive, I sure find plenty of evidence to the contrary. Since I teach a class on thinking critically about data, I should know better. Actually, I do know better.  I also know that if Vegas ever offers betting options on what motivates decisions – emotions or evidence – put your kid’s college fund on “emotion”. But I look at the score, then immediately see how my score compares with the University average. Above average means I have been validated and I am a great teacher and should keep on keepin’ on. Below average and I may need to revise my syllabus, dust off the CV, or both.

Now that I teach several times per week instead of a few times per year, I am on campus a good deal. Which means I get to run into students from my early courses on a regular basis.  I like these student interactions because they tell a story better than the data sets.  As someone who teachers with a philosophy that we all enjoy stories and should tailor our communications to that reality, it makes sense for me.

Recently I ran into three students from three different classes on the same day!  First, I enjoyed the fact that enough of my students persisted through their early coursework in order for me to run into them!  Second, I remembered two of their names!  More importantly, the short conversations we had between classes left me feeling that I am making a difference.  One talked about his tough but survivable Math class, and how it related to some of our discussion topics in English. The other warned me that there are still plenty of teachers still doing the “Death by PowerPoint” thing.  He said if the military could not break him with months of jargon-filled slides, an occasional four hour session of them was not going to stop him either.  The third conversation was the most supportive and it came from a student that really did not like my class all that much.  We talked about work stuff and parted with a friendly handshake.

All three interactions came about by chance.  A chance that happened only because they chose to stick with the program and I chose to be out and about at my campus.  For me, it was validating.  To see them still at it, to see they wanted to continue the conversation long after they had to, helps me understand my goal as a professor.  It is not to get a higher score than my peers. If I truly wish to help them “Rise”, I must make it a point to see them, and hear them, long after they have passed my class.

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Filed under college teaching, critical thinking, higher education, metrics, UOPX